2009 Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows Announced

The 2009 Graduate Fellows have been selected. They are Jason Coronel (Political Science); Tae-Jin Kim (Neuroscience Program); Xing Liang (Electrical and Computer Engineering); Erik Nelson (Materials Science and Engineering); and Michelle Voss (Psychology); Congratulations to our new Graduate Fellows!

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology is pleased to announce the selections for the 2009 Graduate Fellows program. The Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows program provides an excellent opportunity for young scholars who are engaged in thesis research at the M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. level at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Fellows were selected based on the quality of their proposed work, the likelihood that the work would lead to important new results in their field, and the relevance of the proposed project to existing Beckman Institute research.

The 2009 Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows along with brief descriptions of their research are as follows:

Jason Coronel:
Jason is working on his Ph.D. in Political Science. His research explores how voters process information about candidates during the course of a political campaign. His novel project uses cognitive neuroscience methods, including event-related potentials (ERPs), to measure both explicit and implicit memory with the goal of determining whether the latter introduces systematic biases into political decision-making. Coronel also plans to test the role that implicit memory plays in supporting the acquisition of political knowledge by using research participants with impaired explicit memory systems.

Tae-Jin Kim:
Tae-Jin is pursuing a Ph.D. from the Neuroscience Program. As a Beckman Graduate Fellow he will explore design strategies on how to approach the single-cell imaging of calcium in response to mechanical stimulations by integrating the newly developed FRET biosensor and optical laser tweezers. This research could shed new light on the molecular mechanism by which stem cells perceive external mechanical cues and coordinate signaling pathways to regulate physiological functions.

Xing Liang:
Xing is pursuing his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research focuses on measuring biomechanical properties on tissue and cellular levels using multimodal imaging techniques. His work is specifically interested in the biomechanical properties and microenvironment of tumor cells and its vital role in tumor growth. He plans to use optical coherence elastography (OCE), optical coherence microscopy (OCM), Fourier transform light scattering (FTLS), and a multiphoton microscope in his research. The results could be significant in determining a relationship between cancer development and the properties of cancer cells and their microenvironments.

Erik Nelson:
Erik is working toward a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering. His research goal is to create a new class of materials, single crystal 3D photonic crystals (PhCs) that possess electronic functionality. These materials offer incredible potential for highly efficient LEDs for solid state lighting and a reduced cost of information by lowering energy consumption of lasers in fiber optic networks. Erik’s research plans include designing 3D PhC devices of optimal photonic/electronic structure using finite-difference time-domain calculations and modeling of electronic transport, fabricating these structures using phase masks via AFM imprint lithography, and demonstrating an electrically driven 3D PhC laser.

Michelle Voss:
Michelle is working on her Ph.D. in Psychology, Brain and Cognition. Her research investigates functional brain systems and memory performance in elderly adults. The study takes a proven, effective, and verified intervention for cognitive decline and uses neuroimaging techniques to document brain changes that accompany such behavioral improvements. She will also examine how these benefits can be applied to a broad set of cognitive processes that occur in daily living to improve the quality of life in the aging population.

The Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows each receive an 11 month, 50% appointment commensurate with the pay rate of the graduate student's home department. Funds will also be provided to each awardee to attend one national meeting to present the results of her/his research.